Cleveland Indians

Image via Pixabay

Remote working in some companies means the normal, non-work related office banter and side conversations happen virtually on messaging apps like Slack.

A few of us who like to talk, watch and debate pro sports often (but not too often promise, boss) engage in spirited conversations in one of our Slack channels. 

We usually disagree. Sometimes, things even get heated. Maybe once a year, a certain Green Bay Packers fan gets drunk on fireball and blows up our notifications…

But TODAY, we were united as we lamented the Cleveland Indians most recent trade, bad ownership and Major League Baseball’s market conditions. 

Here’s how we really feel. Enjoy the ride. 

At 12:48 PM, David Yoder sidetracked us from our daily routine:

Yoder: Lindor to Mets.

We get the No. 60 prospect in the top 100.

Andres Gimenez, a 6'4 SS.

Seven minutes later, Carl Hunnell shared the following Tweet:

Adam Fox, who was literally complaining about the Dolan family (Cleveland Indians ownership) hours earlier, posted: 

Fox: Haha when I said I hated the Dolans, I didn't know this happened.

Now I really hate him

At 3:16 PM, I unloaded my thoughts:

Hiser: Alright, here's my rant about the Indians:

2013 -- 90+ wins. Tito era underway.

2014/15 -- slightly down years.

2016 -- 90+ wins, AL Pennant.

2017 -- 100+ wins. We actually invested in the team (a little bit) by acquiring Edwin and Jay Bruce. The year of the win streak! They peaked just a month too early...

2018 -- 90+ wins. They basically run it back and win the division. Kluber is a 20-game winner. Embarrassing first-round sweep to the Astros (who were cheating at the time)

2019 -- 90+ wins. DESPITE doing NOTHING in the offseason to improve the team. Then they trade Bauer and Kluber. We barely miss the playoffs.

2020 -- 35-25, 10 games over .500 in a shortened season, they make the expanded playoffs (despite being sellers on the market and trading Clev) and lose. Bieber wins the Cy Young. 

Look at those last 7-8 years. This is a winning franchise with arguably the best manager in baseball. After the 2017, 100-win season, they stop trying to invest in the team and decide to ride out with most of the guys they have. They let Brantley walk away to the Astros on a very affordable deal. They know they are 1 or 2 pieces away, but ownership only cares about their own financial portfolio and business interests. 

Tribe via wiki

Screenshot of Cleveland Indians seasons since 2013, via Wikipedia

We could have had a starting rotation of Kluber, Bauer, Bieber, Carrasco and Clevenger at this time! Still, a new ace in Bieber has emerged and the core of Lindor/Ramirez and a pitching staff of Bieber/Carrasco/Pleasac remains after 2020. Lindor doesn't hit free agency until after the 2022 season. Seems like the window is still open, right? Wishful thinking.

Yet again, the Dolans do NOT care about building a championship baseball team. They are some of the richest owners in all of baseball. Instead of rewarding fans who didn't get to attend a single game in 2020 with another competitive run in 2021 and a core still intact, they trade Lindor and Carrasco in an attempt to have one of the lowest payrolls in all of baseball. 

I'm OK with playing some money-ball, building a strong farm system, not giving ludicrous 10-year, 300-mill contracts and I'm all for rebuilding quickly when the team is rapidly declining and it's time... but, to basically quit trying to build a title team after the 2017 season and then trade away two core pieces after the 2020 season on a team that was still competing, is a slap in the face and a betrayal to the winning franchise Cleveland has been since 2013, the current team and coaching staff and the long-suffering, loyal fan base.

And we would've traded Lindor last year if it weren't for covid. Ownership has gutted the core of a winning team 3 seasons in a row. They'll now hope to get lucky with prospects and a young team that will compete and bring fans back in again, all while they'll hoard their billions. But sometimes windows to compete don't open again for another 10-15 years! Just ask Kansas City or Minnesota. 

Even comic-sans Dan Gilbert payed the luxury tax and had the highest payroll in the NBA, because he knew the window to win a title was short and he did everything in his power to preserve that. The Dolans have done everything in their power to close the title window quicker than necessary.

Should I write a column? lol.

Fox: You already wrote the column. "Dolans do everything to close title window for Spiders."

Seriously, ask editors to run it. 

And I agree with all that. Dolans love to trade for prospects, that if they turn out to be good, they can quickly trade for more prospects. Sisyphus.

Larry Phillips: I'm fine with it. Run that baby. 

Let's use Adam's GIF of Val Kilmer. That is awesome!

Noted. 

Yoder: Do you know what no one talks about? The fact that the first move of the Dolans was to strip a roster the fans love, change the iconic name of a city-funded ballpark and start policing "rowdy" fan experiences.

They want a west side Cleveland audience. They want to magically find 15,000 people willing to pay $50-$100 a head to fill the lower bowl and then the other 20K to pay no less than $30 to watch a game from 400 feet away 80 times a year.

Phillips: Lindor is the kind of person/player you dream of acquiring. He’s not LeBron, but he’s a Hall of Fame shortstop with a tremendous bat and a charismatic personality. I don’t even follow the Tribe and I think the world of him. I’d pay to get into the ballpark to watch Frankie Lindor’s 4 shots at the plate — even as a Reds fan.

To jettison him for trash is a disastrous message to send to your customers.

Yoder: The whole revenue model of baseball is broken.

There has to be a cap.

NE Ohio will fill the stadium and stay glued to TV screens for a contender. They will not show up and put their heart on their sleeves for a collection of "prospects" that we magically rob the ability to hit until they go to another team.

Phillips: Shows they’re not fans of their own team or have any regard for their own fanbase. The Indians are not a small market team. Hal Lebovitz and Terry Pluto peddled that narrative for decades and it’s bull.

I used to argue with Jon Spencer all the time about this. The Reds, the Royals, the Brewers. Those are small-market teams. The Indians try to insist they are small-market, but the last time I saw a market analysis of MLB teams (granted it was at least 15 years ago), the Indians were in the 13th biggest market.

It has to do with population, TV reach, competing franchises, etc. Small-market mentality, small-market pockets lead to a small-market philosophy in Cleveland.

Hiser: Cleveland is 19th out of 67 pro sports teams TV markets according to this.

Fox: Can't just look at population, tons of factors to determine market size.

Hunnell: Single biggest difference in baseball teams in terms of revenue: TV deals. Attendance helps. Selling hats and other stuff helps. But it's ALL about TV money.

Yoder: They also have to see what's marketable. Name a player that they've had more than 4 years of market value out of?

Cookie might be the only one.

Hunnell: The Dodgers make almost $200M more per year from TV than Cleveland does.

Yoder: No TV provider is going to contract with a small market who is going to risk a dud year every 5 years.

It's a self fulfilling prophecy.

Hunnell: Therein, as Shakespeare said, lies the rub.

TV buys rights based on advertising. Big cities, big TV markets. Big TV deals.

Hiser: Looking at franchise value in 2020, there are smaller TV markets ahead of Cleveland -- Minnesota, Seattle, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, San Diego...

Phillips: If a business person buys a team out of a business interest, that’s generally bad news. Frankly, the only thing you want from an owner is deep pockets and a willingness to spend. Missing either of those is a recipe for disaster from a winning perspective.

Fox: Called Marge Schott's office in 2000 and the secretary put me through. She owned property around U of Cincinnati and I was like, Can we do a carwash fundraiser in the Blockbuster parking lot you own? Without asking my name or anything she was said, "I don't care." and hung up. So I like her.

Yoder: I'm so tired of cheering for what I believe is a losing philosophy. That's what it boils down to.

Hunnell: All are welcome here!

Yoder: (Loser gameshow sound)

SHOCKULAR!

Phillips: I think value and market size are apples and oranges. But the point is the same. When John Hart was GM, the Indians had deep enough pockets to go get David Justice and Orel Hershiser and re-sign Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome past their rookie deals. Today they can’t keep Lindor two years ahead of free agency and the payroll will dip below $40 million? C’mon. If you’re that poor you shouldn’t own the team.

Yoder: Larry I will charge into battle with you right now.

There has never been so much unity on this Slack thread.

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